Health Canada approves consumption site in Victoria

Barsaba Taglieri
Agosto 4, 2017

Health officials in Victoria hope a supervised drug injection site will help reduce the alarming number of overdose deaths in the B.C. capital.

The Government of Canada is taking action to address the public health crisis related to opioid overdoses and deaths across the country.

Once it's operational the site will provide supervised injection services along with additional harm reduction and counselling services.

Advocates who have long pushed for harm reduction measures in Victoria say the approval for the site, which was first proposed in Victoria more than 10 years ago, is a step forward.

The health authority said it supported such services but said it could only begin exploring it after the current Liberal government replaced the federal Conservatives, who were opposed to supervised drug-use sites and fought an unsuccessful court battle to shut down what at the time was the the only federally approved site, located in Vancouver.

Global and Canadian evidence has shown that, when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites save lives without increasing drug use or crime in the surrounding area.

In response to the worsening fentanyl crisis, Island Health opened a temporary overdose prevention site at Our Place in December.

The new site will be renovated before it opens in the spring/summer of 2018. Once approved, the supervised consumption site would be for residents and their guests.

Island Health now has another joint application with the Portland Hotel Society to open a second supervised consumption street at 844 Johnston St.in Victoria, which remains before Health Canada. That application is under review.

The department has granted the Vancouver Island Health Authority an exemption from Canada's drug laws in an effort to reduce overdose deaths that have claimed lives across British Columbia. To date, Health Canada has approved a total of 16 supervised consumption sites in Canada. On average, more than four people in B.C. die every day from an overdose.

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